review copy; 400 pages
Their Last Secret by Rick Mofina is a highly recommended thriller.
Twenty years ago Janie, Nikki, and Marie were fourteen-year-old girls living in Eternity Manitoba when they made a blood pact to be "Skull Sisters." The girls were all from struggling families and felt disenfranchised. After a stunt the girls pulled, Janie ended up regularly babysat for one of the wealthiest family in town, Royston (Roy) and Connie Tullock. Janie liked the children, but the Tullocks always shorted her pay and soon she was short a hundred dollars with no hope of actually getting fully paid for her time. Nikki came up with a plan to rob them when they were out of town. This plan resulted in a horrifying crime.
Twenty years later Emma Grant is a school counselor living in California. She is keeping her past buried and a secret from her true-crime author husband, Ben, and her teenage step daughter Kayla. Kayla, however doesn't trust her new stepmother and thinks she is hiding something so she begins asking questions and snooping around. While Kayla is questioning her, Emma knows that trouble is already coming to her doorstep when finds a note stuck on her car windshield at work that says "Soon it will be 20 years. Your day of reckoning is coming." Emma realizes she is being followed and that combines with everything else to threaten to have her secret exposed.
This is a well-written thriller that features a build-up of tension and suspense as the plot elements in the narrative are revealed. The characters introduced are perhaps not as fully developed as I would normally like, but it is all in the name of preserving the tension and keep you questioning what exactly is going on. Mofina holds back enough information to keep you guessing as the anxiety and apprehension grows. You don't have all the information on any one element or character, but you have just enough to keep you riveted to the novel and try to figure out what is going on and how the action is going to unfold. It is a compelling novel right up to the end, which is a little over the top, but still provides an end to the narrative. 4.5
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of MIRA/Harlequin.
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